One of the most important factors in monetizing your site: your audience, your community, your fans.
In the past, I have talked with a lot of people about monetizing their site. And often blog and site owners have these grand dreams of cash in mind, and are ready to jump in using the tools and strategies that will make their wishes come true.
But many times, they lack one important piece. An audience.
Community and Fans
Let’s take the example of you and your desire to monetize your blog. First, think about it. When you create a website to sell your services and/or products, you have an idea and you create a site, fully aware that the old saying, ‘build it and they will come,’ is not a reality. You understand that you have to market your product and services. Real hard.
But when you are think of running ads on your site, incorporating affiliate marketing, and other similar money-making attempts, there is a step that comes even before that.
You need to build your community and your fans first.
Those readers need to be nurtured. You want them to rave about your posts and share the heck out of them. You will know when you have reached that stage, they trust your opinion and use you as one of their top resources.
Building that community of fans is critical. And spending time on monetizing strategies before that can often end in frustration and headaches.
Tips on Growing Your Fans
People gravitate to sites that provide them with an answer. A lot of people are online searching for a solution and when someone finds that answer, you can bet you have just created a new fan.
Serve Your Readers Needs
However you decide to provide content to your readers, whether it’s video, audio, written text or a mix of all, find what works for them. And if possible, be as diverse in those offerings as you can. Don’t jump on a bandwagon because so and so says this media works best. Test it to make sure it fits your community.
Don’t Overwhelm Your Readers
Nothing will stunt the growth of your site faster than starting to monetize every nook and cranny of your site. Suddenly filling every widget area with an ad and scattering affiliate links everywhere won’t cut it. Introduce your strategies over time and if something isn’t working, reconsider it.
Be Social, But Be Careful
Get on social. Find the right channels for you and develop your own strategy. You will find social gurus out there that say it’s all about conversation. But those same experts are filling their streams with simple replies, such as “yes”, “great”, “ahhhhh”, “I agree”. In my eyes that is not conversation, so you will need to figure out what works for you.
Make Your Site Always the End of the Funnel
No matter what you do, remember you want to funnel people to your site. Don’t make your Facebook page a focus that will lose conversions on your site. Or any other social channel. Make sure you have some path that will eventually lead them back to your own site.
Keep Your Site Fresh
If at all possible, have a blog or some other feature that keeps your site refreshed with new content that constantly drives more readers to your site. You don’t have to go crazy and blog every day, but find a groove for yourself and keep it consistent.
Community Is Not a Guarantee Though
Yes, it’s needed, but it is also not the silver bullet. The perfect solution. Sometimes you will find it hard to get a good read on your community that you have created. Or you may just find what ends up as your community, well, isn’t your perfect customer.
Most of all, don’t depend on your community for your success. Have a great idea for a new product or service. Asking your fans isn’t always something you can count on.
Community, Traffic and SEO
While building that community pay attention to who is coming to your site and make sure you are optimizing your content. Your community can help you get that jump start, but after that you need more. Traffic doesn’t always mean large number. Think of of it this way.
You can have hundreds of thousands of visitors, but if you are not targeting them correctly, well, it won’t matter what those numbers are. You can have less traffic, but higher conversions. No matter what, you will want to go beyond your community and build out your traffic
Most of All, Be Patient
As I have said before, monetizing your site is not easy and it takes work. There are very few people who hit that sweet spot right out of the gate. Building a community and a fan base takes time. Myself, I have been at it for more than 8 years in the WordPress space. With patience, a little luck thrown in and hard work, you too will find what works best for your audience.